Dr. Living Dead! is one of Sweden’s few contributions to the modern thrash that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The band’s gimmicky appearance and occasionally tongue-in-cheek lyrics lend themselves well to the crossover thrash mantra the band has adopted. And while this might bring images of Municipal Waste and Gama Bomb to mind, Dr. Living Dead! doesn’t try to emulate either band. They instead just play the kind of thrash they want to hear. Admittedly, it doesn’t have as much of a personality or face to it as the aforementioned groups, which is likely why the band hasn’t reached the same levels of popularity.
From a musical standpoint, “Cosmic Conqueror” is a predictable affair. It alternates between speedy thrash riffing and upbeat downpicked riffs. Though it always gets the neck going, it never reaches breakneck speeds. Melody is used only infrequently, instead opting for shoving one riff down your throat after another. Unsurprisingly, however, gang vocals are in full force all throughout the record, and used almost to perfection. The band’s singer spends much of his time with a classic thrash yell, occasionally recalling more unique characters like John Connelly (Nuclear Assault), Mike Muir (Suicidal Tendencies), or even Tom Martin (Lich King). To his credit, the band’s singer (Dr. Mania) does try his hand at some clean singing. Unfortunately, he isn’t really that good at it (see: “Moment of Clarity“), and so his normal shouting is preferred. Sometimes there’s a reason that an established formula is so effective, and Dr. Mania’s singing is proof that thrash vocalists shouldn’t experiment too much vocally.
Even before hearing “Cosmic Conqueror”, the songwriting was easy to envision.Dr. Living Dead! breaks little new ground. They’re at their best on faster efforts; the title track in particular demonstrates how effective brute force speed can be, but there are certainly a number of other similar instances. Other efforts like “Terror Vision” feel like they miss the mark because the band relies on heaviness rather than sheer energy. Of course, thrash is hard to truly mess up, and so the song isn’t all that bad, but it definitely stalls the album a little bit.
In a wasteland of thrash records, “Cosmic Conqueror” would shine, but there’s simply too much competition for this album to stand out. It’s good for a few listens, but will likely sit on the shelf after that. If every song had the intensity of the title track, and the album was cut down to the best 8-9 efforts, it would be far more potent. As it stands, this is a serviceable thrash record that does little to offend purists of the subgenre.
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“Disease To Exist”
3.8/5 or 76%.